ask-the-marshallAccording to George Durham’s Taming the Nueces Strip, John “King” Fisher wore tiger skin chaps. I’ve had a pair made for SASS parties (no cats were harmed in the making of these chaps). Are the original chaps in a museum?

Curt Rich

True West Maniac #244

John “King” Fisher was mighty handy with a gun. He went to prison for burglary at 16, and by 17, he was known as a bad man to tangle with. He made a good living selling stolen cows from Mexico. Not wanting to show favoritism, he bought stolen cows from Mexicans and sold them in Texas. He killed seven men, but in his own words, he “didn’t count Mexicans.” Yet, he managed to avoid conviction, usually by threatening anyone who might testify against him. Fisher eventually married, sired four daughters, got religion and became a lawman, becoming “practically legitimate.”

His fatal undoing came in San Antonio, Texas, where he ran into an old friend, Ben Thompson. Although he tried to avoid a fight, Fisher was drawn into an altercation between Thompson and the owners of a vaudeville theatre. When the smoke cleared, Thompson’s body was riddled with nine bullet holes. Thirteen other rounds, presumably meant for Thompson, wound up in Fisher.

Fisher was also a flamboyant dresser, once described by a Texas Ranger as being “decked out in a beaver hat with solid gold hatband in the shape of a rattlesnake, a silk shirt with a bandanna around his throat, a pair of chaps made from the skin of a tiger he allegedly killed at a circus, and a brace of silver-plated, ivory-handled six-guns.”

The tiger skin chaps became part of Fisher’s attire after he raided a traveling circus and shot a Bengal tiger. He skinned the big cat and made a pair of chaps. The fate of Fisher’s tiger chaps remains a mystery.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian.

His books include The Arizona Trilogy and Law of the Gun.

If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, PO Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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